Less than one year from Election Day, the reality of a difficult Senate map that has Democrats on defense has become even more pronounced following the retirement of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

If Democrats lose only West Virginia, but a Republican wins the White House, the GOP would take back the Senate majority, giving them the edge in a 50-50 Senate in the same way President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory did in another evenly split body.

If Democrats retain the presidency, they cannot afford to lose any of the other seven Democratic-held seats we currently rate as competitive. That means they must run the table in states that include those former President Trump won by 16 points (Montana) and eight points (Ohio).

It’s the equivalent of pitching a perfect game, but Democrats argue that’s what happened in the 2022 midterms, albeit thanks to multiple errors from Republicans who nominated weak, controversial candidates. In what should have been a historically bad cycle, Democrats successfully defended every single incumbent and managed to flip a GOP-held open seat. But lightning striking twice

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